Immersed in the day-to-day grind? It’s easy to remain in the status quo unless we proactively seek to inform ourselves of relevant news and best practice., Doing so ensures that we don’t quickly develop those blind spots that leave us stuck or, worse, vulnerable. We wouldn’t want that to happen now, would we? So let’s look at some of the ways we can avoid those blind spots.
Keep up with Technological Advances
The hottest, latest buzzwords in the online sales world include AI, VR, AR, and 5D. AI stands for artificial intelligence and has launched its own branch in the marketing industry. AI marketing uses data about one’s customers to best tailor their communications and offers to each of their needs.
VR (virtual reality), AR (augmented reality), and 5D (five-dimensional) are similar to each other, all referring to the ability to make a customer’s online experience as close to reality as possible. Google has taken the lead in this arena through their innovative searching and communicating solutions which incorporate 2 different senses (visual and sound) to generate a 3rd one (touch or physical presence).
Besides these buzzwords, 2 more practices stand out in the tech realm – integrations and automation. Allowing your customers to continue their online experience on multiple devices, connecting and synchronizing various platforms where you have an online presence, and automating repetitive tasks have nowadays become the expected norm. In the end, the more innovative and integrative your solutions are, the higher your chance to stand out from the crowd and avoid becoming obsolete.
Establish Social Proof
In a virtual world, building trust is crucial. With so many options to choose from and opinions to listen to, customers are faced with choice paralysis. The more credibility you can showcase, the better your chances of gaining new clients. But trust isn’t something easy to build; it requires a combination of skills, experience, credentials, and most importantly, social proof.
Here are some ways of establishing that much-needed social stamp of approval:
- Get testimonials and/or recommendations – ask your clients for them directly or gather them through surveys and focus groups. Then, post them on your website, landing page, or LinkedIn account for convenient, strategic, and easy access.
- Encourage client reviews on platforms like TechCrunch, Google My Business, or Yelp
- Publicize private feedback from direct messages on social media, of course only with the client’s permission or while blocking out their private information
- Increase the number of comments and engagement on your social media accounts
Creating systematic workflows, procedures, and routines can make running your operations easier and quicker. Every part of your business has some recurring elements to it; the only thing that changes is the framework or circumstances of each project. For example, for every new client, you send a number of similar emails, instruct your team to handle some similar tasks, and dedicate a minimum number of hours to repetitive items like meetings.
By creating some standard systems for each of these situations, you will not only save time and resources, but will also be able to train and delegate new employees in supportive roles such as a VA (virtual assistant) or a general manager.
Some of the actions you can take to systemize your business operations include:
- Organize frequently used information (e.g. logo, brand colors, bio, work samples, etc.) in a central location and give appropriate access to each employee
- Create templates for all your communications, which can be easily tweaked based on each specific interaction, including replies for unpleasant customer support experiences and pitch rejections
- Have an easy-to-follow sales process that overlaps with your customer’s journey and encompasses all the backend moves needed to create a seamless, smooth experience for the client
- Get together a cheat sheet for various program designs, event designs, or campaign designs
- Compile an onboarding manual for new hires
Create Passive Income
Passive income is a type of revenue generated automatically by some work that has already been completed but continues to be bought/sold. Examples include courses, subscriptions, memberships, affiliate marketing, and more. This type of income is fairly easy to set up, without any major drawbacks, and can provide you with the opportunity to grow your business tenfold.
The pandemic has pushed many brick-and-mortar businesses to pivot toward online-centered offerings. One important observation emerged from that shift – providing a combination of services AND (particularly digital) products is the best way to maximize profits. Information packaged as a product, whether in the form of an online course, e-book, or a DIY kit, can not only serve as a lead magnet for your regular services, but it can also create multiple streams of passive or semi-passive income.
Incorporate Enough Protection
The online world is notorious for its highly fragile security. Concerns include cyber attacks that may not only jeopardize your personal safety, but also that of your customers. If even leading online-exclusive service providers, such as Adobe, eBay, Canva, or LinkedIn, were not able to protect their own systems against data breaches, putting at risk millions of users, that has to say something about the importance of incorporating as many security measures as you can for your own online business.
Some of the best ways to safeguard yourself and your clients include:
- Building your website using a secure connection (HTTPS instead of HTTP in the URL)
- Offering only legitimate, reliable payment solutions and gateways, like PayPal or Stripe
- Buying the additional protection from one's hosting company (e.g. Bluehost offers domain privacy + protection, single-domain SSL certificate, and SiteLock security for a small additional cost)
- Invest in cyber liability insurance which will cover losses coming from a malware infection or data breach that may contain your clients’ confidential and/or sensitive information.
The online world brings with it many unique elements that have to be carefully considered. By following the best practices above, you’ll avoid getting lost in the dust trails of your competitors’ race tracks and instead, take your business to new levels.